Hilda Paredes (1957)

Can Silim Tun (1999)

for vocal quartet and string quartet

  • General information
    • Composition date: 1999
    • Duration: 15 mn
    • Commission: Musik der Jahrhunderte
    • Dedication: Christine Fischer
Detailed formation
  • ensemble of vocal soloists(solo soprano [], solo mezzo-soprano [], solo tenor [], solo bass voice [])
  • violin, second violin, viola, cello

Premiere information

  • Date: 2000

    Allemagne, Stuttgart, Eclat Festival


    les Neue Vocalsolisten et le Quatuor Arditti.


Enregistrement : SWR, 1 cd Mode Records New York, 149.

Program note

As I was familiar with the abilities of the Neue Vocalsolisten of Stuttgart, I wanted to find a text that would be suitable for the musical imagery I had in mind for them. I found this text on a visit to Mexico in a codex, which compiled Mayan spells, prayers and medical prescriptions.

The language used in these texts belongs to the ancient Maya culture and particularly to that of the priests from the aristocracy of the time. This compilation contains medical, magical and religious concepts of the Mayas with almost non-European influence.

The language used is esoteric and symbolic, which makes a literal translation fairly difficult. Instead the very imaginative and often nonsensical text provided me with the material I was looking for my projected piece.

I chose a couple of texts: the first one is a spell to bewitch a deer, a native animal of the Yucatan peninsula, now in extinction in that region. This is a very sensual text, which makes me think it was related to fertility in some way. It’s very explicit sexual language, inspired me to try to convey the religious spirit intrinsic in a prayer and throw a spiritual light into the idea of mating implied in the text.

The second part is based on a text to bewitch spiders and it is also an invocation to Ix Chel the Mayan Goddess of Fertility. As in many of the spells in the compilation, the use of rude words is used in this one. Perhaps as a means to dispel the damage caused by one of the various poisonous spiders of that region. Towards the end, a subtle game of words converts the word Am (spider) into Amen, one of the very few European words found in these texts.

Hilda Paredes.